All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio with battery back-up capability is your best source to receive the warning. In some areas, civil emergency sirens may be your first official warning. In addition, if your television or radio has battery back-up capability, you may receive NOAA’s National Weather Service warnings from local media.
The average tornado is on the ground for less than 10 minutes and travels a distance of about 5 miles. However, they do not always follow the norm, and have been known to stay on the ground for more than an hour and travel more than 100 miles.
Tornadoes generally travel from the southwest at an average speed of 30 miles per hour. However, some tornadoes have very erratic paths, with speeds approaching 70 mph.
The local Weather Service (NWS) office issues a tornado warning whenever a tornado has been sighted or NWS Doppler Radar indicates a thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued whenever a severe thunderstorm is observed or NWS Doppler Radar indicates a thunderstorm capable of producing damaging winds or large hail. Warnings are for smaller areas, such as counties, and are usually 30 to 90 minutes in length. You must act immediately when you first hear the warning. If severe weather is reported near you, seek shelter immediately. If not, keep a constant lookout for severe weather and stay near a shelter.
A tornado/severe thunderstorm watch is issued whenever conditions exist for severe weather to develop. Watches are usually for large areas and are usually two-to-six hours long. Watches give you time to plan and prepare.
A tornado is a column of violently rotating winds extending down from a thunderstorm cloud and touching the surface of the earth.
A funnel cloud is also a column of violently rotating winds extending down from a thunderstorm; however, it does not touch the earth.
Most tornadoes occur during the months of May, June, July and August in the late afternoon and evening hours. However, tornadoes can occur any time of the day or night in almost any month during the year.